Blog Posts

Friday, June 8, 2018, 14:44 | No Comments »

View of castle of Santa Maria da Feira from outside

If you were to design and build a castle, isn't this exactly what you would draw: a square keep, four turrets with little conical hats on top, a crenellated wall with arrow slits. It's almost a perfect Lego design. Yet this is no Lego, it's a historic castle standing on a hill in Santa Maria da Feira, a region just south of Porto.


Against the sun the castle manages to look severe, threatening even but that is because we were there at the wrong time of day and couldn't stay for better pictures – we were due at a meeting in Porto later.

To see more about this castle, and its importance in Portuguese history, click here.


Saturday, May 12, 2018, 22:57 | 1 Comment »

Open carriage with and uncomfortable seat

What is it that makes us interested in something? Is it our genes? Or maybe our surroundings? Our childhood experiences? Who knows? One thing that is certain is that some people experience an overwhelming fascination which may be incomprehensible to others. Most of us, for example, find entomology a bit of a turn off. Beetles and greenfly? Who cares as long as we can rid our gardens of them? Other interests, even if we don't share them, are more understandable.

Here I'm going to share with you the obsession of Dr Lopo de Carvalho, a doctor who lived in Geraz do Lima just off the southern road from Viana do Castelo and its suburb of Darque to Ponte de Lima.

To learn about his special interest, click here.

Friday, May 11, 2018, 13:52 | No Comments »

Granite carving of a shoeshine boy and his client

You won't see too many flesh and blood shoeshine boys in Ponte de Lima, not even ones as well coifed as this one. I'm delighted to say that our little town is thriving and provides plenty of good work without young men having to clean someone else's shoes.

We also have an entrepreneurial mayor who has encouraged people into the town by sponsoring every sort of festival you can think of, from the Festa de Sarrabulho, a local dish made from pork offcuts and rice stewed in pigs' blood and the Festa do Vinho Verde, a green wine festival, through exhibitions of science and technology for students to wedding dresses and accoutrements. Some festivals are more appetising to an outsider's taste than others: what about a festival of lampreys? I find the fish so ugly that it puts me off but others claim it is really tasty. Whatever your particular interest, though, there will be a festival for you in Ponte de Lima, so all summer long the town bustles with locals and visitors.

To find out where this charming, old fashioned scene of a city gent and shoe shine boy fits into the picture, click here.

Thursday, January 4, 2018, 23:37 | No Comments »

View down the Rio Homem valley from Brufe

Today I'm taking you to the village of Brufe, high in the Serra Amarela, the Yellow Mountains, by the border with western Spain. Mind you, when I was last there, at the end of a brutally hot summer, the land was so parched that it wasn't so much yellow as pale fawn.

There is an old English saying, "When gorse is out of bloom, kissing's out of fashion." I don't think kissing has fallen out of fashion in Portugal yet and so, if you look carefully, you will always find butter-yellow gorse in bloom somewhere in the mountains as well as a host of other wild flowers and shrubs.

To find out why we are going to Brufe, what we shall see on the way and what we find at the end of the ride, click here.

Thursday, January 4, 2018, 23:14 | No Comments »

Ad on the back of a loo door in Porto sirport

It was in Porto airport that I discovered what you have probably always known: that toilet paper is sexy. How, I ask myself, could I have spent a lifetime unaware of this crucial fact? But there's more. Portuguese loo rolls are apparently the sexiest on earth! Who knew?

Then I realised that there was no need for ignorance. There on the back of the loo door was an internet link with the popular prefix 'my': "Only an idiot would go to a web site to learn about toilet rolls," I thought so, of course.....

To find out what I learned plus why I used the word 'gothic' in the headline, click here.

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